Friday, October 23, 2009

Catron: The AMA's Quisling Strategy

David Catron of has written a nice piece in the October 22, 2009 American Spectator showing how far the American Medical Association has fallen.

Here is an excerpt from his piece, "The AMA's Quisling Strategy":
...The once-feared organization has become far more pliant in recent years, however. Since the Sustainable Growth Rate formula was imposed in the 1990s, the AMA has repeatedly been forced to go hat-in-hand to its Beltway masters for stays of execution. Each time, Congress has issued a reluctant reprieve from payment cuts -- but not without a price. In exchange for its 2008 reprieve, the AMA was forced to cooperate with congressional Democrats in their disgraceful move to gut Medicare Advantage (MA), a program that has greatly benefited poor and minority seniors. In that tawdry episode, the Dems attached an SGR waiver to a bill that cut funding for Medicare Advantage, whereupon the AMA cravenly began parroting DNC talking points about insurance company profits. This collusion helped the Democrats push through the first of several cuts in MA funding.

This year, the price of the AMA's reprieve is support of whatever health care legislation emerges from Congress. And, so long as the final bill does away with SGR, the organization is obviously prepared to be a willing accomplice in whatever fraud the Democrats perpetrate.

...The tragic irony of this cynical strategy is that it will not work. As Vidkun Quisling discovered in October of 1945, the advantages of collaboration are always short-lived. A temporary reprieve from Medicare payment cuts is all Dr. Rohack will have gained by delivering his patients and colleagues into the hands of Washington's health care bureaucrats. Because socialized health care systems are explicitly designed to circumvent the market mechanisms that actually control costs, they must always revert to the only remaining alternatives: rationing services to patients and cutting payments to providers. All government-run systems do both, and Obamacare will be no different.
(Read the full text of "The AMA's Quisling Strategy".)

Catron is absolutely right. Instead of taking a principled stand against government-controlled health care, the AMA has chosen to try to cut a deal with its future masters -- a strategy doomed to fail, as it has all throughout history.

And unfortunately, they'll end up betraying their patients' health and doctors' long-term ability to practice good medicine.

To paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, "Those who would exchange essential liberty for a temporary reprieve in Medicare cuts deserve neither the reprieve nor liberty."

(Note: I'm not a member of the AMA. According to this story, less than 30% of licensed US physicians are members of the AMA. Certainly, the AMA cannot claim to speak for anything close to a majority of US doctors.)